The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has proposed scrapping the compulsory management course that all solicitors are required to undertake within three years of qualification.
In the latest part of its ‘Red Tape Challenge’, the regulator said it places “an unnecessary regulatory and cost burden on individual solicitors and entities.”
The management course stage one (MCS1) was introduced to provide all solicitors with a basic understanding of management. It costs between £150 and £450, and is currently offered by 75 training providers.
A consultation issued yesterday said: “The course as structured gives only a very high level of awareness of management issues and may be inadequate for those who wish to set up on their own or irrelevant for those who do not. Indeed, we have received feedback that many solicitors have no desire to pursue a management position or that the requirement to undertake MCS1 comes too early in their career to be of any practical benefit.
“We know that many regulated entities already have comprehensive learning and development programmes in place that ensure that employees are competent to perform their role. MCS1 is considered difficult to accommodate within programmes that focus on roles and the career progression of individual solicitors.”
The SRA said the prescriptive requirement was also inconsistent with its new approach to ensuring the ongoing competence of individual solicitors, which gives freedom and flexibility for individual solicitors to identify and determine how they meet training needs. “Continuing to require individual solicitors to undertake MCS1 reduces this freedom and flexibility.”
Persons who must be ‘qualified to supervise’ – sole practitioners, managers of authorised bodies, supervisors of those who undertake reserved work – will still be required to undertake at least 12 hours of management skills training. The SRA said this may be satisfied by completing MCS1 and 2, but other courses covering similar ground will also count.
The other proposed changes to education and training regulations would allow Welsh-only speakers to qualify as solicitors; end the requirement for overseas lawyers to obtain a certificate of eligibility before they take undertake the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) to requalify as a solicitor, on the basis that their character and suitability will still be checked upon qualification; and stop the separate English requirement for overseas lawyers on the QLTS because their standard of English will be picked up during the assessment.
Julie Brannan, SRA director of education and training, said: “These proposals are part of our on-going project to streamline training regulations and remove bureaucratic processes so as to focus our attention more rigorously on assuring standards.”